April 20

What’s Your Opinion?

In our current writing unit on persuasive writing, the students are working towards writing a letter addressed to someone (or a group of people) and in that letter, share a concern or idea they may have on a topic they feel is important to them.  This letter will also serve as the basis for their speech on the same topic. It is my hope that they choose a topic they feel passionate about.

Today, the students brainstormed ideas for the letter. The topics the students came up with were quite diverse.

Some of the topics the students brainstormed included:

  • war
  • racism
  • should animals be kept in zoos/MarineLand?
  • smoking
  • using respectful language
  • the dangers of video games, Pokemon Go
  • girls should be treated as equals to boys
  • girls and women should be represented equally in sports
  • the importance of school (don’t take it for granted)

We began the unit with an activity called 4 Corners. Each corner of the classroom had a sign that read either Strongly Agree, Agree, Strongly Disagree, Disagree. The students had to think about their position on the topic and decide which sign to stand under. They needed to be able to justify why they believed what they did and were even allowed to change their minds if another group persuaded them to do so.

Topics ranged from “Should animal testing be allowed?” to “Should children be allowed to have a TV in their bedroom?”.  Several students were very passionate about their opinion while others were more easily swayed in any direction. Lots of chatter and discussion around these topics gave the students plenty of opportunity to practice their debating skills and how to respectfully disagree.

 

What is one topic/issue you feel strongly for or against?

 

April 16

Celebration of Writing

Writers write. And that’s exactly what our class has been busy doing. On Thursday we celebrated the incredible hard work these students have been putting forth. To see a story go through all the phases of the writing process and be proud of the final product is quite the feat! I can tell how proud my students were by the smiles on their faces and their eagerness to see their stories published into a book and share them with others. Bravo!

Our librarian, Mrs. Allen, is delighted to place our books in the school library temporarily and is eager to show them to our visiting author who comes next Friday. Her name is Andrea Beck. A future blog post will be written about her visit.

Our celebration of writing happened on Thursday complete with a drink and a snack. Our books can go home this Easter weekend to be shared with family (with the promise to bring them back on Tuesday to be placed in the library).

Cheers!

Mrs. Sullivan

March 25

Fantastic Fiction

Students are gearing up to put all their hard work and drafting skills into their good copy. We will be turning our stories into books and can’t wait to share our finished pieces with you!

Students have been learning over the past several weeks how to embed meaningful dialogue, setting details, step-by-step details, double-endings (physical and emotional as Jack Gantos would suggest), colourful vocabulary, different types of narrative (1st person versus 3rd person), leads, conclusions, paragraphing…phew! It’s endless.

The students are so creative and love to share their work with others. Some of the stories are about going to camp, entering a race, losing a Roll up the Rim tab, friendship, auditioning for a school, sleepovers, water slide disasters, etc. They are all quite diverse.

Today we spent time learning how to edit with a partner and were asked to listen very carefully as to where the student did well and what they could improve upon. We also worked on our title pages.

Stay tuned for the finished product celebration. Write on!

February 12

Drafting Ideas

In Writing Workshop, we are learning to generate ideas for writing realistic fiction.

What is realistic fiction?

Realistic fiction is a genre consisting of stories that could have actually occurred to people or animals in a believable setting. These stories resemble real life, and fictional characters within these stories react similarly to real people.

We have learned to:

  • reread older entries in our notebook, mining for possible ideas
  • think about stories we wish existed in the world and write about them
  • draw a map of our house and let this reveal ideas for a story

When writing, it is great to learn from the pros! Recently, we’ve been learning different ways to gather ideas for writing realistic fiction. Over the last few days, we’ve had Jack Gantos as our teacher of writing. He’s the author of the Rotten Ralph series, Joey Pigza series, Jack Henry series, and other books, too!

When working abroad, I had the pleasure of meeting Jack Gantos and listened to him share his tips and strategies when writing. I was more than happy to share his presentation with the class recently Writing can be a daunting task, especially when staring at hundreds of blank pages in our notebooks. We learned that just writing 10 minutes a day can be a great start to building a story. Jack showed us his Grade 5 writer’s notebook, which he shows in the picture above. He writes all of his books in his notebook first and he’s kept all of his notebooks from when he was a child. Pretty neat!

To add to our repertoire of generating ideas for fictional writing, we’re taking Jack’s advice and drawing a map of our house and finding stories that hide within our house–either in our bedroom, in the kitchen, backyard, wherever! We might dismiss the ‘everyday’ things that happen to us and overlook them as potential stories to nurture and develop. Most of Jack’s stories that he writes about come from things that happen to him in his own life.

In this writing unit, we hope to use stories from our own lives to inspire and create fictional characters and events.

Stay tuned for more about our realistic fiction writing adventures!

January 16

Paragraph Patrol

As part of our paragraph writing practice, we took a close look at some paragraphs students had written already and then evaluated their responses in 2 ways:

  1. How well the student answered the question, including organization of their thoughts
  2. Conventions (grammar, punctuation, capitalization)

It helps to get practice knowing what a level 4 sounds like, compared to a level 3, and so on. For the most part, we all agreed on the levels we assigned to each answer.

Have a look at us in action!

December 14

Powerful Paragraphs

Ah….the infamous paragraph burger! I’m sure many of us, parents included, have learned about paragraphing in this way. Lately in our class, the students in our class know that a strong paragraph typically has several key ingredients:

paragraph

The structure of a paragraph remains the same, even from when I went to school.

A paragraph is a group of related sentences about a topic.

The topic sentence, tells us what the paragraph is about. It provides a hint about what the reader will learn.

The body of the paragraph is at least 3-4 sentences that give supporting details about the topic.

The concluding sentence sums up the ideas in the paragraph and mirrors the topic sentence.

In writing workshop today, we collaborated as a class and wrote a paragraph about playing in the snow at recess. We wrote details about building forts, snowmen, catching snowflakes on our tongue, and throwing snowballs (shhh). Next, the students practiced on their own choosing from 3 possible topics: Elf on the Shelf, Christmas Morning, or Christmas Dinner.

We shared our paragraphs with a partner and a few of us shared with the whole class. Mrs. Sullivan reminded us about using juicy vocabulary, too! It was fun to hear of the details we each used in our paragraph. Bravo!

 

November 24

Revising with Partners

To REVISE means to see again. The prefix re- means again and vise means to see such as in the words vision, visor, visionary.

As we prepare to publish our narratives, we took some time today to read our narratives to a partner. The partner was asked to listen carefully and afterwards offer 2 specific compliments (e.g., I really liked the way you wrote your lead. It was catchy and I could picture what you were saying), and 1 suggestion for a revision (e.g., perhaps add more detail to that paragraph).

Reading our stories in an expressive, storyteller way is helpful to bring our ideas to life, too! Great job everyone for your hard work. It is so important to have ‘fresh eyes’ looking at your work.

There are so many layers to writing that we are learning about this year such as:

  • strategies to generate writing ideas
  • how to add voice to our writing
  • how to craft a lead
  • how to craft an ending without saying “The End” or to be continued…
  • when do you start a paragraph? What is a paragraph?
  • how to add dialogue
  • making our word choices more vivid and complex
  • how to use published authors as our mentors. What did this author do that I can try?

Most times, good writing just doesn’t happen. You work at it, you revise (making it sound better), and you edit (making it look better), and you do it all over again until you feel it’s ready to be published.

What do you find the most challenging when it comes to writing and the writing process?

 

 

November 9

Moving Along In November

We’re a very busy class learning and exploring each and every day. Have a look at our learning over the last week or so…

Rubbing balloons on our heads may look weird, but we were doing a science experiment to try to create static electricity using friction. Unfortunately, we learned that not all science experiments work they way they’re supposed to and our balloons were quite stubborn, not sticking to the walls like they should have.

One of our gym classes was ‘bootcamp style’ where stations were set up and students circulated through each station, getting our sweat on while the music motivated us to keep moving! Situps/pushups, jump-rope, bean bag toss, soccer dribbling, and so much more!

Our personal narrative unit had us getting our minds warmed up while we practiced storytelling our chosen idea to a friend. We then learned about drafting leads or introductions–the HOOK that will capture a reader’s attention. Mrs. S models for us what a lead can sound like and we learned about different ways to start a narrative. We were asked to write 2 different leads and pick the best one.

Gathering and making sense of data is our next unit in math. Our focus today was on Venn Diagrams. We were sorting information like who liked chocolate vs. vanilla, siblings & pets, and much more. We used magnetic pictures of ourselves to come up to the board and decide where we would place ourselves on the Venn Diagram. We also used sticky notes to sort numbers.

We had a lovely visitor today from the Rotary Club. The grade 3s and 4s from the split classes were given student dictionaries to keep! We learned a bit about what the Rotary Club does and how a dictionary can help us.

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September 22

Happy Long Weekend!

It may be a short week, but we’ve been busy learning and having fun in our classroom.

img_5958Our mini cross-country meet took place at our school and the students embraced the challenge, the weather was beautiful, and all students had a successful experience. A big thank you goes out to Mrs. Lucier and Mr. Gallo for quickly adapting our school ground into a special course for our students. They even arranged to have awards for those who placed first.

Congratulations to everyone for their efforts.

Today we met our music teacher, Mr. Morson who is already working hard to learn our names and get to know us.

Learning about sentences and creating ‘team names’ for our table groupings were just a few of the things we did in the afternoon.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Mrs. Sullivan

May 16

Poetry is All Around Us

Writing poetry is a state of free float. ― Margaret Atwood

In Writing Workshop, our study of poetry and exploring the writing of poetry has been quite liberating for some…we are learning to write Free Verse poems. There are NO rules when it comes to free verse. No punctuation? No problem. No capitals? No worries. No rhymes? Sounds like a plan.

We’ve learned that poetry is different from prose in many ways. One of the ways is that poetry has a wonderful rhythm to it–a flow, a beat…whatever you may call it. Musicians like Rhianna, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake…are all poets. Song lyrics are poems!

We’ve been learning about hearing the music in poetry, writing about issues or topics that matter to us, listening for line breaks, looking at ordinary things in extraordinary ways.

Poetry is all around us…if we’re willing to just slow down and listen.

We studied this poem by Valerie and began to understand the power of line breaks and how they can create visual interest in the poem and influence how the poem is read. Have a look yourself! Do you see a difference between the two? Which one do you think is the ‘proper’ poem and which one was changed?

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